Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dill Pickle Soup Oh Yeah!

Every time I enter a Marx Foods contest, I feel like I'm competing on some wacky TV show where I'm given a basket of unrelated ingredients and I have to make something from those ingredients.

But in the Marx Foods contests, I have a huge advantage over those contestants - I have plenty of time to think about what I'm going to make. And even better, I don't have to use all of the ingredients.

The current contest was all about green things, and the package I received included green eston lentils, mint herb crystals, green cardamom pods, dill pollen, and bamboo rice.

Ummmm ... well, okay.

I only needed to include two of the ingredients, but I still found this one very challenging. I can't wait to see what everyone else made, just because it was such a crazy challenge.

I had a few ideas that seemed too un-seasonal, but finally I settled on the lentils. For soup. Because it's winter. And then ... um ... uhhhhhh ... hmmmmm ...

Dill pickle soup!!!

Before you think I've gone completely mad, let me tell you that I've actually eaten dill pickle soup before. I've never made it, though, and my memory of it is pretty vague. But I know I liked it.

I picture my fore-mothers scrambling to make some sort of dinner mid-winter, and grabbing whatever was left in storage. And then, for flavor, grabbing some pickles. Maybe it sounded crazy then, too, but perhaps her husband loved it and told his friends how brilliant his wife was to create this amazing soup. And then they all wanted dill pickle soup.

Or something like that.

If you still think that dill pickle soup is a little wacky, think if it this way: the pickles add a nice tartness to the soup, just like tomatoes do.

For this recipe, use any type of dill pickles you like. I used baby dills, because that's what I had. And some of them were really teeny. When you measure the chopped pickles, pack them lightly into the cup. A little more or less isn't a big deal, but you want the pickle flavor.

Yes, you really do.

You can VOTE FOR ME in this contest HERE.
And be sure to look at the other recipes. There's some awesome stuff. Green. Yum.

Dill Pickle Lentil Soup
When you're chopping and dicing the vegetables, try to get them to about the same size as the lentils. Since this is a rustic, homey recipe, you don't have to be precise about the dicing - just try to get it close to that size.

For the soup:
2 quarts water (plus more, as needed)
1 cup green lentils
1/2 cup dill pickle juice
1/2 cup diced dill pickles
2 teaspoons salt (plus more, as needed)
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped roughly
1 carrot, peeled and chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon dill pollen
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon prepared brown mustard
Several generous grinds black pepper
1 tablespoon sherry or cider vinegar (optional)

For the garnish:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dill pollen
Chopped or sliced dill pickles

Combine all of the soup ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, excluding the vinegar. Simmer until the lentils and vegetables are cooked through. Add more water, if needed, to keep it soupy during the cooking, and stir as needed to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot where they could burn.

Meanwhile, combine the sour cream and dill pollen. Refrigerate until needed.

To thicken the soup and add body to it, use a stick blender to blend part of the soup, or transfer some of it to a blender and blend carefully, then return the blended soup to the pot. (You know about hot liquids exploding from blenders, right?)

Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed. If you prefer a slightly more tart soup, add the vinegar. Cook for a few minutes more.

Serve hot. Garnish with a dollop of the sour cream and some of the chopped or sliced pickles. I used baby dills and a few of them were tiny enough to slice into small rounds.

Aren't those little cast iron pots adorable? I think they're great for serving soups.